Peter Newmark's A Textbook of Translation is arguably one of the few classic texts in the occasionally emerging field of translation studies and stands out among the other, often more abstract and cultural theory-inspired works of `translatology' because of its determination to be immediately practical and applicable to actual, hands-on (usually literary) translation work. As such it is an excellent resource for both students of translation as well as practitioners of the trade.
As (relatively) often as Newmark is cited by other writers, it should be understood going into the book that his views are by no means the norm and the author himself is very aware of this. Simplifying the position, Newmark supports loyalty to the original as opposed to the `transcreation' of a new text in the target language. He takes something of a combative, even snooty, stance while defending his argument that the translator's role is to remain essentially invisible and should be there only to relay the message, as exactly and to-the-word as possible, of the original author. For example, the dictum that you must account for every single word in the source text appears constantly throughout the book, which obviously makes a lot of sense in theory. It may be worth noting, though, that most of Newmark's many examples are from French, German and Italian (the book can probably get pretty frustrating at times if you don't claim at least a basic familiarity with these languages), and if you don't have the `luxury' of working with languages as closely related and historically and culturally interactive as these, you may find it difficult to apply his strict warnings against translating with the purpose of conveying the meaning (the gist, or the `spirit') of the original to your own work. Jaded professionals may find themselves at turns amused and wistful when faced with such a forceful argument in favor of the `ideal translation.'
While most readers are going to have a tough time agreeing with all the points in this book, it is still an effective reminder to stay tight with your work and to read your source texts very, very closely. Opinions aside, just about everyone involved or interested in the field will find something useful in the many examples and words of advice that Newmark presents. A Textbook of Translation may be something of a rare find by now, but it's definitely worth a look for both its practical tips and its role in the formation of translation studies.